Building licenses. What is it, cost and types.

Building permits are that type of procedure that everyone knows of but that relatively few people ask for.
In this article we are going to see what they are, the different types that exist and the cost.
Let’s go!

Entry published by:

Francisco Joaquín Jiménez González. Registered architect. Know more

Published on 26/03/2022

What is a building license?

If you are going to do a work in your house, you need a building license, or what is the same thing, a procedure that is carried out in the urban planning department of the town hall where your house is located.

This procedure is mandatory and guarantees the compliance of the current legislation, having it prevents the works from being stopped and not having this license can lead to the demolition of the built work, with its consequent costs and fines.

When is a building permit required?

You will need a building license whenever you are going to carry out any type of intervention in your home. Depending on the type and scope of the work you are going to carry out, the type of building license you’ll need will be determined.

Who has to request the building permit?

A building permit must be requested by the owner or tenant of the property, it may be that the architect or the builder will be in charge of processing it, but the owner or tenant of the property will always be the promoter of the license.

At Leukos Architecture, for example, we always include the processing and payment of building permit fees in our budgets.

What does building license mean?

It is a permit issued by the competent local authority (urban planning department) which is the one that accredits you to be able to carry out any type of work in a home. But in addition to this license you’ll have to pay the corresponding fees and taxes (variable depending on the type of work) to comply with the law.

When making a work and processing the license you’ll have to choose the type of license depending on the size of the work, for this we will choose between:

Major and minor building license

There are two types of licenses, both have to be processed at the Town Hall before starting the works, follow the regulations and pay the urban fees (if applicable).

Depending on the type of work we will choose one license or another:

  • The minor building license is for works that are simple at a technical, constructive and economic level and don’t require the specific previous granting by the administration. We will process the minor work license for small repairs in the house of electricity, plumbing, sanitation, installation of heating systems, enclosures, coatings… Basically, minor works can be done in homes, commercial premises, roofs and facades.

Currently minor work licenses have the name of responsible declaration of work or prior communication of works. In the case of responsible declarations, you will need an architect to write the documentation and approve all the technical details of the renovation (as it concerns bigger works than for example tiling or finishes, for example).

The limit or “border” for a “minor license” is to alter the built area of the house and change the structure of it. Less than that changes could go through minor building license. On the other side, prior communication of works are for tiling, floor changes or bathroom changes; as soon as you change windows or partition walls, for example, you will need a responsible declaration of work.

  • The major building license will be requested for works with a larger scope, which need a technical project drawn up by an architect, a cartographic plan, a location plan, building plans and more documents, you will also need a descriptive and justifying report compliance with the CTE (Technical Building Code), budget, measurements, etc.

These major works can be works such as the construction of a new plant, other common elements of the buildings, extensions, works that modify the structure of the building, alter its built area or that generate changes in the use of the property.

To request a major building license you’ll have to contact an architect, who will prepare the technical documents and endorse the documents at the corresponding College of Architects. After this you must pay the fees and deliver the documentation to your town hall so that they’ll approve the processing and be able to start the works.

Duration and expiration of a building permit.

Construction licenses are granted for a specific period to start and finish the works under the legal condition of normally start the work within six months and the finishing this work within a period of three years.

In any case, it will depend on your town hall and the particular conditions of the license. These are the general deadlines but they vary according to the town hall or, for example, if it’s a protected building.

How much does a building permit cost?

Whether it is a major building license or a minor building license, the cost will depend on the fees charged by the town hall of the area in which your home is located, in some cases it’s a single fee, in others it’s paid in consideration of the type of work and is tabulated by modules, and each one has a different type of tax. For example, the most frequent municipal tax is 4% over the total cost of the works.

In addition, we’ll have to take into account the costs of preparing the documentation, which also varies depending on the size and scope of the work to be carried out.

Can I do some kind of work without a license?

We will be able to do work inside the house that does not need any license, as long as the structure of the building is not modified or we make changes that alter the construction more than aesthetically, for example, if we want to sand the parquet, paint the walls or change the tiling, but not more than that.

However, even in these cases you will have to present at least one previous communication of works. It’s a small license that is only used to change the floor or walls of some small rooms. The good thing is that this license is very fast and you just need to fill a form and pay the fee.

These licenses are always reviewed by the town hall and can inspect the work, so beware of stating different things or doing more things after presenting the license. In addition, usually very little can be done with them, being limited to changing walls or a bathroom, and then you have to go to the responsible declaration, the next building permit.


When carrying out any work, whether it is major or minor, you’ll always need a building license.

To make sure that everything is legal and current regulations are complied with and to not have problems in the future, the simplest thing to do is contact an architectural studio such as Leukos Architecture to take care of the legal aspects to take into account before starting the work and avoid any type of legal problem.

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